Sōjutsu 槍術 – Six Kamae 六法之構
Kukishin ryū sōjutsu has 6 kamae or postures. These kamae are contained within the forms of the first level, kaisetsu gata, of the sōjutsu training.
As opposed to viewing the kamae as separate ‘static’ positions practiced in isolation, this can help in understanding kamae as transitory and forever changing through one-another. The kamae is more than forming a static pose, it is (as with kurai dori) a position in relation to the environment and opponent/s along with the body’s movement into that position and potential movement thereafter.
Typically kamae are listed in some sort of hierarchical or logical progression – high-middle-low, Jō-Chu-Ge – however with the sōjutsu the order in which they are practiced in the forms becomes:
• 征眼之構 Seigan no Kamae • 扞法 kanpō
• 流水之構 Ryūsui no Kamae • 四方技 shihō gi
• 中段之構 Chūdan no Kamae • 飛鳥抛 hichō nage
• 上段之構 Jōdan no Kamae • 一突挨 ittotsuai
• 詒変之構 Ihen no Kamae • 一擣三當 icchu santō
• 下段之構 Gedan no Kamae • 撥摧 hassai
Most of these names are in common usage for other weapons and schools (within the Bujinkan ryūha and beyond). Of particluar note though are the first two seigan and ryūsui.
征眼之構 Seigan no Kamae – subjugating eye posture
Although the term seigan ‘aiming at the eyes’ is common in būdo the first kanji used here is a little different. The usual kanji for sei is 正 meaning correct or just. In Kukishin sōjutsu the kanji for sei is 征 meaning to subjugate or attack the rebellious. The character itself is made up of three elements: one, moving man, to stop or halt.
So interestingly this kamae is a person moving to stop another. The second kanji means the eye/ball or to look. Together a few possible renderings of 征眼 could be subjugating eye, subjugating gaze or domineering stare.
流水之構 Ryūsui no Kamae – flowing water posture
This is very straightforward to translate, the characters are flow and water, hence you can say flowing water, running water, stream or water currents. However beyond this there are some interesting ideas behind the name and within the kamae.
There is the image of water running freely down the yari and flowing from the tip or of the yari being as a stick on a river, bobbling up and down with the current, and again freely moving. In this kamae you need to be able to freely move or rock the legs back and forth. This could mean being able to stand in a river and gently move with the current as opposed to trying to resist and stand firm. Further to this, and as a link with the kukishin ryū being used on ships, you have the idea of lowering the stance to move naturally and maintain stability in response to water moving beneath you.
In Japanese aesthetics flowing or running water is one of the beauties of nature. Captured in the phrase 高山流水 kōzanryūsui, high mountains and running water, a symbol of natural beauty. Water flows down the mountain where it will eventually rise as a cloud to repeat the cycle – often referred to by Hatsumi sensei. This kamae then should be natural or beautiful, a part of the natural cycle and a reminder of it’s/life’s transience, and not becoming fixed at one point.
There is also an interesting connection here between ideas in Kukishin ryū sōjutsu and Japanese mythology, but more about that at a later time.